A Letter from a typical Hispanic student

Hi! So I don’t remember exactly how I summarized things out to you. The argument was that our Hispanic population does tend to suffer differences and some disadvantages when it comes to learning.  In general I was speaking based on my own personal experience. Now that I’m older I have been able to look back, reflect and understand the system. My experience has allowed me to see at first hand the disadvantages I was faced with while being born first generation American. The problem that I see with most Hispanic families is the lack of social support the parents and children have. Hispanic parents are so worried about providing that they fail to see the importance of education. Not because they don’t think it’s important they just don’t have the time or don’t know how to help their kids. They don’t know how many classes they need to graduate or what credits are. The only thing they know is that they drop off their children to school and they in trust the school system to teach their children.

I come from a big family my mother had five children with her first failed marriage in Mexico. She came to the states in 1972 with a fifth grade education level. My father migrated to the states that same year but unlike my mother he never got the opportunity to go to school. He was the oldest in his family and had to work the fields. He doesn’t know how to read or write. Both my parents met in what they called a coyote safe house during the braceros program. Since then my mother has though my father how to write simple things like his singing his name and some numbers. Now days you can still find my dad practicing how to sign his name and words he puts together while sitting in kitchen table from time to time like a little kid.

Growing up my mother foolishly feared that I would lose my Spanish roots. She didn’t send me to preschool. I started kinder garden when I was five and was only able to speak Spanish I promptly learned English within the first year. So when I was in second grade my teacher ask my mother if she wanted me to have bilingual classes. According to the teacher it was great because I would be able to read and write in both Spanish and English. My mother was trilled as you can imagine, but it became quickly confusing. I remember we would alternate one day in Spanish and one day in English and as a result my spelling till sucks! And I still have some grammar problems. They never reviewed or bothered to ask how I was doing. As a result I was stuck in bilingual classes all through fifth grade. Thank god for spelling check! Junior high was uneventful. I can honestly say I think I got most of my education from junior high. I don’t remember learning much at Canoga Park High School. While in high school I remember having PE for all three years I attended there. I had multiple elective as well. One semester I had cooking, typing and PE. So I was just cruising. As 11th grade started getting closer I began asking questions about graduation and credits because I would hear my friends talking about it. It was then that I went to my counselor whom then Informed me that had no real credits and that there was no way I would be able to make them up on time to graduate. It was estimated it would almost take me two years extra to catch up.

So whose fault is it really? Was it my fault? Granted I have always been a late bloomer. Looking back through my schooling from elementary to high school my parents never not once, did they attend an open house. I was the only child in my house. My step brother and sisters did not attend school here in the states because they were older. I had no one to mentor me. My parent didn’t know how. The only thing the counselor recommended for me was to attend the high school’s continuation program. I didn’t want to attend school there I found it embarrassing. I knew students that were currently enrolled and were not learning anything. I went home crying. Somehow I got lucky and got information about West Valley Occupational Program. I was told that in order to attend you needed to have strait fails on all your classes for at least one semester in order to qualify for their GE/Diploma program. So I took a chance and skipped school for two months without anyone taking notice. Not my parent and not the school. I built up the courage and stepped up to my mom and told her flat out that I had not been attending school for those two months and that if she didn’t help me transfer to West Valley. I would never return to school. It was there that I was given for the first time a full explanation of what I needed to do to graduate. The counselor there was my life saver. He was the only one that had ever taken the time to explain what I needed to do. I can honestly say I got luck! It’s so hard to stay motivated when you don’t have the proper tools to be successful. At home the only thing my parent ever said to me was if you’re not in school you need to be working. It’s not that they don’t value education. They are just busy getting by. As you can see I’m still struggling to finish my education. I’m just turned thirty seven and I’m still trying to get my Associates degree.

[signed]